Being Cabin Crew | The Ugly Truth Part 5


Table of Contents

Being Cabin Crew | The Ugly Truth Part 4

Page 1 – Bart’s Performance Appraisal
Page 2 – Bart’s Response
Page 3 – Bart’s Response (cont.)
Page 4 – Behaviour/Conduct in Atlanta
Page 5 – Adult Content
Page 6 – My Behaviour in Atlanta 1
Page 7 – Bart’s Complaint Finale

Being Cabin Crew | The Ugly Truth Part 6

Bart’s Response

Having sent Bart’s performance appraisal to him on 28th December and copied in his manager I expected to hear back from her fairly quickly.

The following screenshot comes from documents used in the grievance I raised against the company for the way the Head of Cabin Crew dealt with my appeal.

For point of reference, during my appeal meeting she asked whether I had considered allowing Bart’s manager to deliver his performance appraisal instead of sending it to him directly;


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In mid March I received a phone call from crew line manager Lana. She told me Bart had filed a grievance and had made some pretty unpleasant allegations.

I subsequently received a copy. He had gone through his performance appraisal and responded to each point individually. I was asked to add my comments.

His document was thirteen pages long.

I’ve used the original document, have changed names and used ‘Bart’ and ‘Laurence’ to identify who’s speaking. I’ve also used “from the appraisal” for text that came from the appraisal I wrote on him.

Additional comments have been added where necessary in coloured font. No grammar or spelling corrections have been made to Bart’s document. On his LinkedIn profile he states “excellent communication and leadership skills. Educated to Masters Degree level”.

Following the initial investigative meeting with crew manager Lana I was told there was a case to answer for some of his points. I then began putting together my defence.

The document that follows was submitted before I met with crew manager Lana.


(Laurence) Dear Lana,  

Further to our telephone conversation which took place at 11.30am on 5th March 2019 regarding Bart’s complaint, this is my response. 

(Bart) Dear Lana,

Below as requested are the details of my full formal complaint. This complaint is in relation to an email that I received from Laurence, and refers to events on the VS103 / VS104, 24/12/18 – 25/12/18, with Lawrence (FSM). 

Having thoroughly read the bullying and harassment policy, I believe that this email and Laurence’s behaviour towards me down route, do represent several examples of Bullying and harassment. I have included the following; the original email plus my response and additional points. Also, with each point raised, how it can be classed as bullying and harassment.

I fully believe that I have been targeted by Laurence. I believe his inclusion of my manager in the feedback, was a deliberate act to jeopardise any future promotion or career development opportunities that I may have. I’ve unfairly been judged I will defend myself, in this case I honestly feel it would have been justified had Laurence onboard managed his crew and not waited to send such a demotivating email. Not only could I see or defend myself at the time but I would have been more educated for his expectations on the inbound sector, something I’m certain managers are supposed to do at the time not a day later.

As Laurence’ email is long and specific, I will provide my insight to each of the points raised. Additionally, I will provide my thoughts and opinions, which may be raised with Laurence by an appropriate manager.

Points raised in email plus my response:

(from the appraisal) Bart was allocated an Upper Class working position by me prior to the briefing. When asked, he said he had worked in the cabin before and was familiar with the service. During the briefing whilst asking the crew as a whole questions about the aircraft type (A340-600) as a refresher, Bart wasn’t very forthcoming with answers and generally remained quiet.

He did however answer his individual safety question competently. For the rest of the briefing he mainly looked at the floor. I would have liked to have had a little more eye contact from him. It’s nice to see people engaging with you when you’re talking to them.

(Bart) As an ex Police Officer and generally a confident individual, I found Lawrence to be particularly unapproachable and intimidating from the beginning, so I do apologise if my mannerisms have upset him or were not engaging enough but his demoralising manner was intimidating.

(Laurence) I vehemently refute the allegation any crew member I have ever flown with in my 29 years with the company would find me unapproachable or intimidating.  I’m confident performance appraisals written on me by crew of varying ranks throughout my time as a Flight Manager will confirm that.

As well as speaking to the crew on this flight to obtain their opinions please also speak to the First Officer who has known me for almost as long as I have been in the company. Also speak to the Captain who has flown with me several times the most recent of which was just a week or so ago. 

(Bart) I arrived on time to report, and went to the briefing room to see if the positions had been allocated. The room was empty so I returned to the table area were both Laurence and the CSS (crew member T) were present. I asked if they were on the Atlanta flight? Laurence turned and walked away, back towards the briefing room, ignoring my question. T turned to acknowledge me, stating they had been allocated.

“Positions” refers to inflight working positions. CSS – Cabin Supervisor.

(Laurence) I have absolutely no recollection of Bart approaching me prior to the briefing to ask whether T and I were on the Atlanta flight.  Had he spoken to me I would have replied, I’m not in the habit of ignoring people.  I’m a chatty, friendly, outgoing person and I’m sure upward feedback on my file will confirm that.

As far as I recall, the first time I set eyes on Bart was in the pre-flight briefing and that’s when I told him his working position and asked whether he’d worked in Upper Class before.

Bart states he approached T and I and asked whether we were on the Atlanta flight. His question therefore was “are you on the Atlanta flight?”  He then states I turned and walked away ignoring his question.  He says T acknowledged him and stated “they had been allocated”.

According to Bart’s statement he didn’t ask whether working positions had been allocated, he asked whether we (T and I ) were on the Atlanta flight.

When I allocate positions if a crew member talks to me before I get the opportunity to talk to them, I tell them their position and ask if they’re happy with it.  If I’ve allocated them an Upper Class position I ask if they’ve worked in the cabin before, especially if they’re new which Bart is.

I always allocate one relatively junior crew member to work in Upper Class and sadly on this flight that was Bart. The ONLY reason I would have walked away without answering him was because I didn’t hear him but I’m almost positive he did not speak to me prior to the briefing.         

(Bart) In the briefing, I was informed I was working position 6 in upper class. As this was the first time I had been made aware, I quickly used my ipad to familiarise myself with any gold card passengers, unique passengers or any special meals. This is something I have done before and been given positive feedback for. I did not look at the floor.

(Laurence) This statement is a blatant lie.  Having advised Bart he was working position CM6 (CM = Crew Member) I then asked whether he had worked in the cabin before and if he was familiar with the service.  He confirmed he had and knew what he was doing.  I then said as I always do to crew who are less experienced, if you have any questions or need help with anything just ask.

Bear in mind Bart has just stated prior to the briefing he was told by crew member T working positions had been allocated. It would be natural for a crew member to then ask “where am I working?” Had this conversation genuinely taken place crew member T would have replied something like; “they’ve already been allocated, you’re working CM6 in Upper Class”.

No such conversation took place which is why the first time Bart learnt where he was working was when I advised him during the pre-flight briefing.

Having been told he was working that position Bart says “I quickly used my iPad to familiarise myself with any gold card passengers, unique passengers or any special meals.  I did not look at the floor.”

So Bart is claiming as I began my pre-flight briefing, instead of listening he started reading his iPad.  Do you not think if I saw a crew member reading their iPad whilst I was delivering a safety briefing I wouldn’t have asked them to put it down? Especially considering the importance of the information being delivered.

There were nine other crew in the briefing room all of whom were looking and listening to me yet Bart claims he was looking at his iPad to familiarise himself with his customers.  Considering we only had nine customers in total in Upper Class (as claimed by Bart later in his complaint), it wouldn’t have taken him long to see out of those nine there were no gold card holders, no unique customers and no special meals.

With that in mind please note I state in my report that Bart spent the rest of the briefing looking down at the floor and there was almost no eye contact at all. 

I believe had any FSM (Flight Service Manager) seen a crew member reading their iPad during the briefing they would ask them to put it down. I would do exactly the same.  It should also be remembered crew cabin bags are not brought into the briefing room so Bart’s iPad would have been very visible had he had it with him.  I can state categorically he did not have his iPad in his hand during the briefing.

At this time iPads were still relatively knew so the information crew had access to was limited. Nobody brought their iPad into the briefing. Things have changed since then.

(Bart) This was a Christmas Eve flight and despite crew being in various stages of emotion, this did not seem to have any bearing on Laurence. Instead he began reading from his Ipad, with a bombardment and tirade of SEP questions, including how to make an emergency PA. Although crew were answering questions, Laurence became visibly and verbally annoyed and stated we would all be up the creek without a paddle if we did not know the questions, despite everyone including me, answering and communally contributing. Laurence then stated that we would do the SEP questions for the flight. A crew member asked if that was what we had just done, to which Laurence replied “No, that was a familiarisation”. Other A/C familiarisations that I have given include things like the safety card and flight deck access code, but for some reason Laurence took this further, which lead to the confusion and demoralisation of the crew.

SEP questions refer to the mandatory safety questions each crew member must be asked individually during the pre-flight briefing. These were not the questions I started off with. Bart claims in the past he has been given aircraft familiarisation points that include the safety card and flight deck access code.

The safety card IS one of the seven aircraft familiarisation points, the flight deck access code is not. This code had to be announced during every briefing.


colourful picture from the Virgin Atlantic Economy menu from early 90s
Front of the Economy cabin menu from the early 1990s.

(Laurence) I conducted my briefing as I always do in an upbeat and relaxed manner. I told the crew I was armed with mince pies from Marks & Spencer and a huge box of chocolates for us all to share.  I had my Christmas jumper on as did a few others.

The crew all appeared to be happy. Anna and Bart were engaged to be married, Mia and Peter were best friends and Anna and Mia were friends with crew member T. Katrina and Claire were best friends. I don’t know if Lottie and the two other crew members knew anyone else. Ven had been called on standby so hadn’t yet arrived.

Instead of reading out three aircraft familiarisation points which was a requirement, I asked the points as questions to the group. I said just shout the answers out. I was trying to make the briefing more interactive as I had been requested to do by my manager. I’ve attached a copy of my briefing so you can see the questions I asked.

Cabin crew manager Fred sat in on one of my briefings quite recently and will be able to tell you what the atmosphere was like and how my briefing is delivered.

Crew manager Fred was the person who conducted the second grievance investigation against me regarding my post on Workplace.


smiling male flight attendant
Taken mid 90’s whilst I was still Purser (cabin service supervisor)

Whilst asking these questions to the group Katrina and Claire who were sitting to my left were the only two people answering. I looked at them and said in a fun way “shut up you two, you’re not allowed to answer anymore questions”.  They both laughed as did I.

For point of reference Bart was sat about three chairs along from me on the right side of the room.  It was tough getting a response from the rest of the crew so I said something like “come on guys, you’ll be up shit creek without a paddle if you don’t know the answers to these questions”.  It was not said in an admonishing or rude tone but it’s important I feel confident the crew are familiar with safety on the type of aircraft they’re about to fly on.

Regarding becoming “visibly and verbally annoyed”, that’s total fabrication and anyone who knows me in the company and plenty do, will tell you that’s not in my nature.  XXX has been my manager for at least fifteen years and knows me better than anyone. Show that statement to him and see what he says. 

If on the other hand as Bart states, everyone including him were answering and contributing, then why would I have said that? That in itself is a total contradiction.

During my briefing I didn’t say “up shit creek without a paddle”. I would never have said that in front of a group of people I didn’t know. I therefore just said “up the creek” which Bart confirms in his complaint. I know the phrase however as “up shit creek” so inadvertently repeated it in this way. From this point onwards the company accused me of using inappropriate language.

Bear in mind when I was responding to Bart’s venomous pack of lies I was literally shaking with anger.

Bart’s complaint about me becoming “visibly and verbally annoyed” and my use of the phrase “up the creek (or shit creek) without a paddle” was dismissed by crew manager Lana following her initial investigation. It was subsequently upheld by dozy crew manager Hayley who carried out the disciplinary. Take a look at this.

(Laurence) When I moved on to asking the individual safety question someone said “haven’t we just done the safety briefing?” Everyone laughed including me.  I don’t remember what I replied but then started asking each crew member their individual safety question.   

Bart states “Other aircraft familiarisations that I have been given include things like the safety card and flight deck access code, but for some reason Laurence took this further, which lead to the confusion and demoralisation of the crew.”

So Bart was unaware why I “took this further” but didn’t think to ask why. I always try to make my briefing interesting and unique in an attempt to capture the attention of the crew.  I’m sure they get tired of listening to the same briefings every time they fly.

My briefings are delivered in a relaxed, friendly and upbeat manner and that will not be difficult for you to confirm.  It’s absurd to think anyone would feel demoralised and confused because of a few additional questions being asked openly to the group as a whole.

As you’ll see from the attachment, these are straightforward basic aircraft familiarisation points. According to Bart, him and everyone else was answering.

(Bart) I answered my own safety question and contributed to the briefing. During the briefing, Laurence commented that the A/C we were flying on was named Emilene Heany. I happened to know that this A/C was named after a little girl who won a competition to name the aircraft. Laurence shocked me with his next comment, which was “Its nobody important, just someone who won a competition”. Once the briefing was over, the crew were looking at each other in disbelief and were all completely unmotivated.

(Laurence) Bart’s account of what I said and the reaction it received is nothing but lies. Having Googled Emmeline Heaney some time ago to find out where the name came from, I established she was someone who entered a competition to have an aircraft named after her.  Since finding that out, when I give the name of this aircraft during my briefing I say if you’re wondering who Emmeline Heaney is, it’s nobody particularly important or famous but just someone who entered a competition to name an aircraft. This aircraft is named after her.

What’s so offensive about that and why the crew were looking at each other in disbelief and felt completely demotivated I have no idea.  The truth is they were not offended and were not looking at each other in disbelief.  This is just another of Bart’s lies. 

Bart states in his complaint “I happened to know this A/C was named after a little girl who won a competition to name the aircraft.” Having read that it made me curious once again about who Emmeline Heaney was because I was under the impression she was an adult.

Having Googled it again I found out from a post on the Virgin Flyer forum the person who won the competition was Leslie Heaney. He named the aircraft after his daughter Emmeline.  So what Bart has said is not correct.


screenshot from a forum post
This screenshot comes from my defence document, page 78 of 520 pages!

       

(Bart) Bullying; demeaning others / overbearing and intimidating level of supervision / abuse of power and authority

(from the appraisal) There was a slight delay on the ground departing Heathrow and Bart was in the cabin talking to his customers which impressed me. I thought he was introducing himself and doing seat introductions however as I realised after take-off, he had been taking his drinks/meal orders. When I told him that’s not how the service is done he said customers started telling him what they wanted to eat/drink so he wrote it down.

I told him he should have explained at that point how we do the service. Quite why he even had his order sheet with him at that time I’m not sure, if he was introducing himself his customers’ names are on his iPad as well as their flying club status. If they were volunteering that information then it’s clear they haven’t flown with us before hence it’s a perfect opportunity to explain how the service is done.

At that point Bart had not been given a meal break down by the galley so would not have known how many of each choice there was available for his side.

(Bart) Bullying; sarcastic and ridiculing words “quite why” / overbearing levels of supervision

We were slightly delayed on the ground as we were waiting for passengers; I was engaging with my customers and spoke to ALL passengers in the upper class cabin. I introduced myself and asked their names and how they would like to be addressed. I asked about their journeys and if they were connecting at all. I spoke at length with Iris (10K) and her husband who had just got over cancer treatment and with a family, Stuart, Donata and Addy. This behaviour has been commented on positively in my previous onboard reviews. One passenger asked me for an AAA battery, which I gave to him as I had a third torch with me. He was very grateful; CSS Katrina witnessed this. (Katrina was working up in the rank of Cabin Supervisor)

(Laurence) We did have a delay on the ground of 40 minutes.  I state in my report I saw Bart in the cabin talking to his customers which impressed me. I thought he was introducing himself and doing seat intros.  Note Bart states “I was engaging with my customers and spoke to ALL passengers in the Upper Class cabin“.  Why that’s relevant will become clear shortly.  

(Bart) I always have an order sheet or piece of paper with me so I can write down passenger’s names and its always handy to have. Whilst I can appreciate that this is not normally best practice, the nature of the delay meant that I had a number of customers who decided to give me their meal and drinks orders.

Bart took an order from every customer on his side. 

I wanted to ensure that everyone in my aisle was receiving the best possible service on the ground during this delay as well as utilising my initiative to save time in the air and give these customers the Virgin experience as soon as possible. Once again I apologise if this is not best practice, however speaking to other FSMs (Flight Managers) and looking in depth through the service manual, I cannot actually see where this is written

(Laurence) Despite having a flight time of over 9 hours and there being just nine customers in the entire Upper Class cabin as stated later in this report by Bart, he states “a number of them decided to give” him their meal and drinks order.  He then says he was utilising his initiative to save time in the air and wanted to give them the Virgin experience as soon as possible.  Despite the long flight time and there being no requirement for crew to have a rest break in the bunks, Bart still felt it was okay to take orders on the ground instead of explaining he would return after take-off to take their order.

He was the ONLY crew member to do this. Both Lottie and Claire took their orders after take-off which is how the service should be delivered.

Bart states he spoke to ALL customers in Upper Class. Why that’s important is because instead of being NINE as he states later in this report and makes a point of saying “there were nine in total”, there were actually TWENTY.  That figure has been given to me in writing by Customer Relations.  So Bart spoke to ALL customers in the cabin yet only took drinks/meal orders for those on his side.

Were Bart to be telling the truth, if we had 9 people in total in the cabin he would only have had maybe six at the most on his side. We had three aisle crew serving in Upper Class plus a Flight Manager and Cabin Supervisor. With almost as many crew as passengers Bart states he wanted to save time in the air.

Before writing his pack of lies he could have called and spoken to Customer Relations like I did, to find out how many people were actually in the cabin on our flight.

With us actually having twenty customers, Bart was clearly very busy on the ground.  It should also be noted that considering I had introduced Katrina as the Upper Class Cabin Supervisor during the pre-flight briefing, Bart seems to think it’s okay to do as he wishes without consulting her or myself regarding how to deliver the service.

After almost a year in the company he should understand the Cabin Supervisor or Flight Manager where there’s no Cabin Supervisor in Upper Class runs the services and any changes must first be approved by them.

(Bart) Sadly I wasn’t guided at all on the ground as I have been in the past during delays, many Managers specifically ask us to take orders to utilise time and it showed that I did engage with my customers. Perhaps Lawrence could have elaborated onboard for my development and growth in my role. 
In unusual circumstances it would be helpful to new crew like myself to be positively guided onboard as I believe this is part of his role.

(Laurence) Bart states he wasn’t guided on the ground and in the past managers have specifically asked for orders to be taken prior to take-off. As already stated I was not the Cabin Supervisor so it would not be my place to guide him with regards to the service unless I saw him doing something wrong which I didn’t.

As you’ll see later in this report, I offered Bart guidance when I found out he’d taken orders on the ground and had written customers’ full names on his aisle order sheet.  I try not to interfere with the service because I don’t like to undermine the Cabin Supervisor. I didn’t stop Bart from taking orders pre take-off because I wasn’t aware that’s what he was doing.

I’m always at the boarding door when passengers board as any crew member who has flown with me will confirm. I do boarding alone to enable there to be an extra crew member in the cabin. I don’t leave the boarding door from the time the first customer boards until the door is closed for departure.

During boarding I would not have been in the cabin to guide Bart which is why I stated in my report that from where I was standing I could see he was talking to his customers which impressed me.

The boarding door where I was standing is on the opposite side of the aircraft to where Bart was working. My view of him whilst he was in the aisle was partially obstructed because of the Upper Class bar and other cabin mouldings.

If he felt he needed guidance which he says would be helpful for new crew like him, he could have spoken with Katrina who was working up as Cabin Supervisor. He could also have spoken to Claire. Both had been managers at another airline for thirty years before joining this airline. Lottie was also working in the cabin, she had been with the company for eight years.

He could also have come and spoken to me.  Did he already feel after having been on the aircraft for just an hour that I was already unapproachable and intimidating?  He refers to the situation as “unusual circumstances” but this was a forty minute delay.

We had a forty minute delay before taking off, not before the aircraft door was closed. So the door would have been closed after about 30 minutes to give us time to taxi out and join the queue to take off.

Once the aircraft door is closed the safety demonstration begins. From then on the crew are involved in safety related duties and once finished, they sit on their crew seat for take-off.

He says he has worked in Upper Class many times including the galley position. With that in mind, he really shouldn’t need that much guidance on what to do during a short delay.

(Bart) Although information is available on the Ipad, I believe that our passengers deserve and appreciate the human touch. I always engage with our passengers and believe that comment is ridiculous. Bullying; inappropriate / derogatory comments about my performance.

I have worked in upper class including the galley many times, and am aware of the importance around food number and orders. There were 9 passengers in total in upper class so I was confident that any food ordered would have been available, however I take into account if large amounts of the same food are being ordered and take alternative orders. There was no danger of running out of any food on a flight with so few passengers, and we had staff travellers as well who can change orders if required.

(Laurence) If Bart has worked in the cabin many times which I hope you will confirm, he should be extremely familiar with all aspects of the service and how it’s delivered.  Bart states elsewhere in his complaint he has “looked in depth at the service manual” yet still seems to be oblivious to the fact that he should be given a meal breakdown before taking his orders.

He also seems to be unaware this part of the service begins after take-off. Furthermore, drinks and meal orders are not taken together.

I’m fully aware few Cabin Supervisors/Flight Managers ask crew to get a meal breakdown from the galley and instead allow them to take orders first and then go back to advise customers should there not be enough of a particular starter or entrée.

The number of each meal choice loaded varies depending on the number of customers. With twenty customers in the cabin we probably had something like twenty six meals. Even with a full Upper Class cabin we can still be left in a position where some people may not be able to have their first choice.

Each meal has to be paid for by the company so they don’t load more than necessary. Catering is always very tight.

The correct way to deliver the service however as per the service procedures manual is covered in detail during the Red Day (a crew service training day) that Bart would have attended quite recently.

Irrespective of that, as already stated there were TWENTY customers in Upper Class, not nine. 


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